Advice on short term contract work
Thread poster: Maggie Lund
Maggie Lund
Sep 5, 2014


I was wondering if any translators or interpretters have any experience of short term (couple of months) work with 'in house' translation teams?

I have been asked to help set up and recruit for a short-term translation team for a large corporation on behalf of a translation agency, and I'm looking for ideas about how this works.

Is it unusual to be contracted to a company for a short time? Is it seen as desirable work?

Any help, advice or experiences gratefully received!


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:59
German to English
Specify your working hours / rate / lines of reporing Sep 5, 2014

I did this on a couple of occasions long ago. The first time I did it, I based my rate on an 8-hour workday, but was shocked to discover that some days I was working 10-12 hours, engaged in a variety of production-related tasks. Of course the same hourly rate applied to the overtime. Smart contractors set their rate to compensate for possible overtime work, or to have an agreement in place to limit your working hours. The alternative is just to stop working after 8 hours, but in all likelihood, you'll find yourself out of work.

If you can establish the conditions of the contract work up front (preferably in writing), then you can avoid a lot of problems. You'll also need to establish lines of authority, that is, who can give you work instructions. You need to determine who can or cannot assign tasks to you, and what these tasks may include. Although you'll be paid by the agency, supervision in all likelihood may come from the contracting company.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:59
Member (2007)
+ ...
What do you like about your job? Sep 5, 2014

If you like being involved in organisation, management, communications, negotiating, training... then you'll probably enjoy the job. OTOH, if you like being a freelance translator because you like translating above all, and you prefer working on your own, being your own boss, free to choose your own times of work and play to some extent, without having someone looking over your shoulder, no commuting, no dress rules... then you probably won't enjoy it.

You should be careful not to allow the agency to compare you with employees when it comes to negotiating payments. You might be working the same 8 hours as employees but they'll be getting paid net of social security etc and they'll get paid holidays, sick leave and countless other "perks" on top of their salaries.

If you're thinking of going for a change away from straight translating, maybe into running your own agency, then it will be a great piece of experience to have under your belt. If you're not, then I imagine it might have more negatives than you'd like because you'll be letting down all your regular clients, and they'll probably find replacements for you. So you could have some leaner times ahead.

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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
French to Danish
+ ...
Careful that tax authorities don't consider it employment Sep 6, 2014

In countries that apply various self-employment tests when a freelancer works in-house at client premises, care should be taken to avoid unpleasant consequences if the tax authorities take a different view and consider such staff disguised employees. It could notably lead to fines and huge additional taxes or social charges. I know that for example the UK, France and the US have such self-employment tests. Many contractors and clients may get away with it undetected, but if caught out, it could be very unpleasant.

In the UK, the keyword to search for is IR35:

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Maggie Lund
Thanks Sep 8, 2014

Thanks everyone for your contributions, I may well come back to you for some more advice!

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Advice on short term contract work

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